HARLEY-DAVIDSON has taken one of the biggest plunges of its 118-year history in 2021, as it dives into the highly-competitive adventure sector thanks to the new Pan America.
While the launch event that took place at the end of last month was mainly to do with the extremely capable and competitive new ADV machine, Harley also dropped in some news that may be music to the ears of the H-D purists out there.
Harley-Davidson Pan America walkaround | EICMA 2019
It came in the form of a confirmation that the 1250 Custom, a bike we’ve known about for some time, would indeed be making its way into the Harley-Davidson line-up, a small shred of consolation for those looking forward to the now shelved Bronx naked bike project.
The 1250 Custom was also a bike that the H-D PR and marketing team were keen to chat to us about on a recent catch-up just prior to the Pan America launch. It’s thought that the 1250 Custom could be the bike to plug the sizable hole left in the H-D range with the departure of the Sportster.
Aside from asking our opinion on the new machine, very little was given away about the new bike – although the launch of the Pan America may help us to answer some of your questions.
The Pan America and Custom are confirmed as using the same engine, the Revolution Max 1250 engine. It’s easily the most advanced powerplant from the Milwaukee factory and features a host of internal and external features that will be trickling down to the Custom very soon.
First of all, the 1250 Custom could just be one of the best performing bikes we’ve seen from Harley, with the new water-cooled unit (in Pan America trim) capable of producing 148bhp and 94lb-ft of torque. It’ll obviously be tuned significantly differently for the more laid-back cruiser, but the knowledge that there is more performance to be unlocked if needed is a tantalising prospect.
On the tech front the engine boasts variable valve timing (VVT), dual sparks plugs, and forged pistons, all of which are assumed to be crossing over to the new bike. With the VVT and other advancements, the Revolution Max engine should be supremely tractable, with torque in all the right places and exhaust emissions that are cleaner than a nun’s Gmail account.
The Revolution Max unit was also designed from the ground up to be as strong as possible, something that allows the Pan America to use it as a stressed member. Doing this allowed the Harley design team to make a frame that was much lighter and more compact than a conventional item. With this push for weight saving and mass centralisation seemingly being at the heart of the Pan America’s design, you wouldn’t bet against the 1250 Custom’s frame also being created in such a conscientious manner.
One of Harley-Davidson’s proudest moments during the online reveal for the new adventure bike was in the unveiling of a never seen before type of suspension system. It’s only available on the Special version of the bike and sees the machine reduce height when the rider comes to a halt. For many it is a necessity on a big, tall adventure machine – for the long and low Custom, it is less so. That said, we’d still expect the bike to be bristling with tech when it officially lands later this year. The IMU seems a sensible inclusion, and if Harley can include a TFT dash sympathetically to the machine, we could also see riding modes and other advanced safety systems.
The final point I want to make might be one of the most exciting to potential new owners of the Custom 1250, and that’s how much it might cost. The Pan America is now one of the best value big-bore adventure bikes on the market. Even those opting for the Special, which comes in at £15,500, will net the owner a considerable saving when comparing it to a similarly-spec’d BMW R 1250 GS for instance. If the same pricing structure is applied to the Custom, we might just have found 2022’s most desirable cruiser.
To check out the full reveal of the new Pan America, click here.